Six Great Fall Hikes in Colorado

colorado hike fallFall is here, and for most of us, that means it’s time for some beau­ti­ful, refresh­ing fall hikes. If you’re in near Col­orado this time of year, these autum­nal hikes real­ly hit the mark. Hint: It’s all about the aspens.

Devil’s Head Look­out Trail to Fire Tow­er, Pike Nation­al For­est
This out-and-back mod­er­ate­ly dif­fi­cult 2.7‑mile trail near Sedalia ascends a dis­tinc­tive gran­ite out­crop­ping to Colorado’s only Nation­al-For­est-staffed fire look­out. While you will hope­ful­ly not encounter fires on your trek, the aspens in this area set it ablaze with fall col­or. Reach­ing the top of the trail, you’ll be treat­ed to an all-around panora­ma for a hun­dred miles.

Cub Lake, Rocky Moun­tain Nation­al Park
A great spot for view­ing Colorado’s famous aspens, the Cub Lake trail, a mod­er­ate 4.8‑mile-roundtrip jaunt, will lead you through pic­turesque mead­ows to its name­sake, a love­ly moun­tain lake with a stun­ning view of Stones Peak. The Cub Lake trail offers anoth­er fun fall sur­prise: dur­ing the sea­son, this is a pop­u­lar hang­out for elk.

Dadd Gulch, Fort Collins
The chang­ing leaves here are stun­ning to behold, the hike is fair­ly pro­tect­ed from intense wind, and, maybe best of all, you can bring your four-legged bud­dy along for the trip—and even give him some off-leash time. The Gulch is divid­ed into upper and low­er seg­ments, the upper half con­sti­tut­ing of road, the low­er half of the foot­path trail. The low­er sec­tion is three miles out and three back.

Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, Aspen
This one-mile hike is great for hik­ers of all skill lev­els. The sur­face of the lake mir­rors the fiery fall col­ors to be seen in all direc­tions. Two stun­ning peaks, Maroon and North Maroon, define this breath­tak­ing place. Some tru­ly superla­tive geology—from sed­i­men­ta­tion to wind erosion—stretching back more than 300 mil­lion years, craft­ed this region. That’s a lot of autumns come and gone.

Mount of the Holy Cross Ascent, White Riv­er Nation­al For­est (Holy Cross Wilder­ness)
Col­orado wouldn’t be Col­orado with­out its stun­ning moun­tains. Hik­ing in this area lets you expe­ri­ence a huff­ing-and-puff­ing four­teen­er (moun­tain with an ele­va­tion of at least 14,000 feet) while tak­ing in the exquis­ite topog­ra­phy. Along the way, you’ll view glac­i­er-sculpt­ed peaks, snow-fed lakes and streams, and an abun­dance of fall col­or.

Cathe­dral Lake Trail, White Riv­er Nation­al For­est
When you want to work for it, this dif­fi­cult 5.6‑mile out-and-back trek offers superla­tive views, includ­ing plen­ty of deep, rich autum­nal foliage. The deep blue-green of the lake, of which you’ll enjoy spec­tac­u­lar views through­out the hike, is smooth as a fresh sheet on a calm day. High­ly rat­ed by vis­i­tors, this trail is known for its scenery. It’s also a busy route, so start out ear­ly, and be pre­pared to share the trail with your fel­low nature admir­ers.